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Heart health calculator predicts CVD risk

5 min read

A new online heart health calculator can predict the age of hearts and the risk to individuals of a serious cardiovascular event or death…

An online heart health calculator may help people determine their heart age and their risk of developing heart disease. This new tool takes into consideration many aspects such as sociodemographic factors, lifestyle and education.

As the leading cause of death in Canada, cardiovascular disease (CVD) causes many deaths per year. Risks from the disease can be modified by lifestyle changes, however as most people are unaware of their risk of heart disease, they do not take the required action until they experience a cardiac event, which may prove fatal.

Dr Doug Manuel, lead author, senior scientist at The Ottawa Hospital, and senior core scientist at the Institute for Clinical Evaluative Sciences (ICES) said, “What sets this cardiovascular risk calculator apart is that it looks at healthy living, and it is better calibrated to the Canadian population.”

Researchers collected data from 104, 219 Canadians, resident in Ontario, from the Canadian Community Health Surveys (2001 to 2017). They linked this data to ICES data on deaths and hospitalisations to develop and validate the Cardiovascular Disease Population Risk Tool (CVDPoRT).

The tool considers many aspects and aims to allow individuals to accurately predict their risk of hospitalisation or death from CVD within the next five years. The risk is given as a percentage, with a 5 percent risk meaning 5 in 100 people like them will experience a serious cardiovascular event in the next five years. The result will also indicate heart age, said to be an ‘easy-to-understand’ measure of heart health.

The many aspects that this heart tool takes into consideration are:

  • Smoking status and lifetime exposure
  • Age
  • Diet
  • Alcohol consumption
  • Ethnicity
  • Immigration status
  • Stress
  • Sense of belonging
  • Physical activity
  • Education
  • High blood pressure
  • Diabetes
  • Socioeconomic status of the neighbourhood

“A lot of people are interested in healthy living, but often we don’t have that discussion in the doctor’s office,” said Dr Manuel, “Doctors will check your blood pressure and cholesterol levels, but they don’t necessarily ask about lifestyle factors that could put you at risk of a heart attack and stroke.

“We hope this tool can help people – and their care team – with better information about healthy living and options for reducing their risk of heart attack and stroke.”

The researchers believe this tool will benefit individuals and doctors and could calculate risks for those outside of Canada – any of the 100 countries which collect health survey data. Once the danger of CVD has been identified, individuals can work on their lifestyle factors to help lessen the risk.

The process of building and validating the tool is published in the Canadian Medial Association Journal (CMAJ).

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